Saturday, March 10, 2012

Not Such A Crappie Day

    I've been itching to get back out on the reservoir after coming up 1/2" short on a pickerel citation, so when I got home from West Virginia a day early, I could think of no better way to spend my Friday than fishing. I called my fishing partner and it wasn't log before Alex was at my house helping me load up the Malibu Stealths in the truck. His cousin Cassie had given him a ride, so I figured I would ask if she wanted to go. She was super excited having never kayak fished before and she kept singing that song,
 I knew I would have to help her and it would limit my ability to fish somewhat, but I really enjoy taking someone out kayak fishing who has never been before. Seeing their smiles and excitement when they catch fish is awesome!
    The plan was to target Bass and Pickerel, and as always we would do a little kid fishing too for Yellow Perch and Crappie. The perch have been thick for the past few weeks, so I was confident we could put Cassie on some fish. We loaded up a third kayak and pulled together extra gear for Cassie and we were off to get a couple dozen minnows. We only had a couple hours until sundown, so we figured we would start at the old honeyhole. On the way there we stopped to fish a pier that always holds a few fish. I got Cassie a minnow hooked up and told her to cast as close to the pier as she could. Within seconds her bobber disappears but the fish misses the hook. I explain how to set the hook when the fish bites and went back to getting a line in the water. Before I could get a minnow on my hook, Cassie was hooked up!
                                                                         Cassie's first kayak Crappie.

She landed the fish, which turned out to be a nice 10" crappie. This supprised me since Alex and I hadn't caught a single crappie so far this year, only perch. I know the perch should be spawning by now, maybe the crappie have finally moved up shallow to stage before their spawn. I missed a couple fish and I moved to the other side of the pier where Alex was got set back up. Neither of us were having any luck. Another kayak fisherman came through fishing a small crappie jig and located a good sized school of smaller crappie in the 8" range holding in open water, suspended about 3' deep. I quickly switched over to a beetlespin and had a short strike on my first cast. A few cast later, I get hung in a submerged tree brach and have to paddle right through the school to retrieve my lure. While doing so, I found a 1/16 oz. spinnerbait stuck on the same branch, which was lucky since I wasn't able to get my bettlespin back. I tied on my new found lure and went back to fishing but the school had spooked off, so we headed on over to our intended destination.
       Right away we were into the fish. The sun was setting and gizzard shad were popping the surface all around us. Cassie had an issue with her reel and a massive loop in the spool, so I paddled over to help her out. After getting her straight, I realized my bobber had disappeared and quickly landed my first fish of the afternoon.
     I continued to fish a knocked down pine tree with the small spinnerbait and found a school of crappie of the end of the tree, about the same size as the last. I also managed to catch a small slime dart on the Might Max, a tiny childrens pole I use to kid fish(with a bobber).

 Alex hadn't caught a fish yet, so I had him come over and I made him a small spinnerbait out of spare parts in my tacklebox. The bite seemed to die so we moved out to the mouth of the cove, following the last of the setting sunlight. It wasn't long until Alex hooked up and assured himself he would not go home with a skunk. Cassie had started strong, but could not seem to find a bite. I located another school in open water, but these Crappie were bigger, and were feeding much more aggressively. One actually broke the water after smashing my minnow from underneath- sweet! Turned out to be this guy...
I have never kept nor eaten a freshwater fish, but these big crappie were making me think twice about it. On the Might Max fishing pole, this one was really a blast! Please understand this rod is 24" long and has no backbone at all. Hook sets are laughable on these things and the drag is either wide open or tight closed on maybe 50 yards of 2 lb test- tons of fun with any fish on the business end. One of these days I'm gonna take it to the HRBT light line for some schoolie stripers. Anyways, I digress- back to fishing. I went back to fishing the tiny spinnerbait, and after a few casts, something slammed it. Drag started peeling off and the fight was on. When the fish surfaced the first time, I thought it was a largemouth, but when it finally tired, I realized it was a really nice Crappie, maybe a citation. Knowing they have a paper mouth, I pulled out my net and landed the fish. 
                                                         A couple inches short and about 6 oz. too light for papers.

We picked up a few more small crappie and called it a day just as the sun disappeared. As always, it was a great afternoon on the water with my buddy, and I was glad to be able to take another first timer out. I was even able to rack up a few points for Kayak Wars. Go team Trouser Troutskies!